Saturday, November 25, 2006


Today I ran the NCR trail marathon. This was a bit of a redemption attempt from my disappointing (to me) MCM 4 weeks ago. I ran 3:56 there and thought I should have done better. I had a number of culprits that I thought might have contributed to my time. Anyway, I went back to how I prepared for the half marathon that I ran a 1:40 at. I didn't eat breakfast, I didn't carbo-load, and I didn't taper. Plus I found the lucky hat I wore but lost until earlier this week

I wimped out and cheated a little on the "no taper" taper and took it easy for the three days prior (13 miles in 3 days). Other than that I ran long runs of 18, 20, and 18 on the 3 weekends between marathon. I also slipped in a 63-mile week which matches my peak before the last marathon. I had a secondary reason for the "no taper" taper. I didn't want waste a lot of training weeks on this marathon. I just wanted another data point to see whether MCM was an anomaly. I also have the Disney Goofy challenge in 6 weeks (not racing, absolutely no time goal).

Anyway, the elaborate plan I formulated for the race was to go out at 8:30 and see how it feels and then start watching my HRM. I know many don't believe in following a HRM for race pacing, but I do, so there! Plus, this was a data collection effort and it would make a nice comparison to MCM.

The course is described as "The NCRTM course starts with 1.8 miles of gently rolling roads before accessing the basically flat NCR Trail. Once on the trail runners will travel 11.7 miles north on a dirt and crushed stone surface before turning around for the 11.2 mile slight downgrade back to the last 1.5 rolling miles on the road finish at Sparks Elementary School." That's pretty accurate except the first "gently rolling hills" represents a pretty steep descent that you pay for at the end on the way back from the trail to the school.

1 7:11/161

WTF? I know the mile marker is wrong and the conversation around me is "I think we're doing 8:30's don't you?" I calm down. I also remember that the certification map said something about the first mile being placed 600 feet short and they made up for it with a long mile on the way back.

2 8:21/170

OK. We're at the trail.

3 8:36/170, 4 8:38/169, 5 8:35/169, 6 8:28/170, 7 8:28/169, 8 8:25/169

Not much to say here except to say that running at a constant heart rate on a flat course leads to a pretty even pace.

9 8:14/171, 10 8:23/171, 11 8:31/171, 12 8:24/172, 13 8:23/172

I pushed it up a few bpm as I started to anticipate the turnaround.

The clock read 1:52:XX at the half, but the half seemed to come more than .1 past 13, but then again mile 1 was short, so maybe this was right? How long before I crossed the line? Who knows. Forget the clock.

14 8:19/173, 15 8:12/173, 16 8:10/173, 17 8:19/174, 18 8:22/174

The turnaround was at 13.5 and the gradual ascent turned into a gradual descent. I had visions of pushing it up after the turnaround and maybe breaking 3:40.

19 8:30/174, 20 8:32/175

I engage in some mental math at mile 20. I'm at 2:47:11 and 8:30 per mile is 2:50. 3:40 is 8:24 per mile, 6*26 is 156 or 2:36 below 2:50, so I'm right on pace except I've got to run 8:24, go up that big stinkin' hill, and make up the 600 feet I owe for the first two miles. Ummm. We'll push a little. (I'm not lying. I actually did this math at mile 20!)

21 8:31/176

Hey, that was hard. I thought for sure that would be under 8:30. We'll try again.

22 8:35/178

OK. Cut it out. That had to be under 8:30.

23 8:31/177, 24 8:42/176

Folks, we are fresh out of sub-8:30 miles. By the way, I should mention that I'm passing people right and left for the last 4 or 5 miles. It seems like only relay people and maybe one or two others have passed me. Off the trail and onto the big stinkin' hills.

25 10:00/177, 26 9:47/177

Somewhere in here is the extra 600 feet, plus I'm going up some big hills. I didn't dog it through here (check my heart rate) but I didn't go for the gold either. It's also hard to get motivated as people who looked pretty strong start walking these hills. I think one person passed me in this stretch. I completely lost all sense of pace at this point and didn't feel that motivated to push it.

There's also some rationalizating going on here like "Hey, I'm running another one of these in 6 weeks" and "it's not like there's any big milestone in the balance..." It should also be mentioned that I might be the worst hill runner in the world.

26.2 1:58/181

Trot on in and get my medal. Chip time was 3:43:16 -- 2 seconds from a 13 minute PR over four weeks ago. Average heart rate was 173. Exactly the same as MCM.

Afterwards was great. Music. Food. They had soup! It was good, too. I was a little suspicious of post-marathon soup, but after having a cup, declared the idea an act of genius. I highly recommend this marathon (but make sure I've signed up first, OK?).


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